Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Olympia Artesian Well Community Mosaic Project

Before leaving for that long stretch of travel and adventure last month, I received a phone call to let me know that I had been chosen as the artist for a new public space in Downtown Olympia.  As long as I can remember, there has been an Artesian spring bubbling out of an old pipe with some concrete pieces stacked around it in a decrepit parking lot downtown.  As I understand it, it is one of the last of some 95 Artesian springs that once gurgled happily throughout town.  Olympia's motto is "It's the Water," and it has been considered a great resource for the City.  There is a constant flow of people filling containers from the well, so you would think it would have been graced with a more fitting environment before now.

But, there is finally a little "park" installed around the well, honoring the fresh spring water that constantly flows up from deep underground.
Olympia's Artesian Well
My proposal is to collect scrap tile, stained glass, found objects, broken dishes, etc. and, during the Spring Arts Walk weekend, the community will be able to create mosaic fish on contact paper that I will later incorporate into a design that will become a permanent surface treatment for the concrete forms.  They don't look like much, but they measure out to about 140 square feet of surface that needs to be covered.

I am very excited to be a part of this project.  I moved to Olympia in 1988 and I love the city and the community.  The people who collect water from this well feel innately connected to it, and they have a protective attitude toward it.  I think involving the community in the project will support that sense of ownership, and I hope people will enjoy returning to the well again and again, seeing something new in the mosaic each time, and always feeling proud to know they had some part in the creation of the artwork, whether they recognize shards from that broken dish they donated, or they see the fish they pieced together out of bits of tile and stained glass.

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